By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona baseball's "New Beginning" is off on the right foot thanks to some late-inning theatrics by some unlikely heroes.
In yesterday's rubber game of a three-game series against New Mexico (1-2) at Sancet Field, the Wildcats (2-1) got clutch hitting in the late innings to finally put away the Lobos 6-5.
Arizona got a run in the bottom of the third when shortstop Jake Thrower tripled and was brought in on designated hitter Cory Robbins sacrifice fly.
But just as they had done in the previous two games, the Lobo bats came alive in the top of the fourth. After scoring five runs in the fourth Friday, and three Saturday, the Lobos touched Arizona starter Ben White for two runs in the fourth Sunday.
After giving up only one hit through the first three innings, White allowed a leadoff double to third baseman Mike DeMore, then an infield single to center fielder Mark Wulfert. DeMore scored on designated hitter Jaime Garcia's sacrifice fly, and Wulfert was caught attempting to steal second. Right fielder Dan Sousa then smacked a solo home run over the left-field fence to make it 2-1.
The Lobos again threatened in the sixth. With men on first and second, first baseman Ryan Wright hit a deep fly ball to center, but freshman Diego Rico made a miraculous catch and then doubled up Sousa, who had tagged up before the catch was made.
Before Sunday, inconsistent defense plagued the Wildcats, who committed 10 errors in the first two games.
"We played good defensive baseball today," head coach Jerry Kindall said. "Diego's catch saved the game."
After back-to-back singles by Scott Kidd and Menno Wickey, New Mexico coach Rich Alday made his first of five pitching changes on the day. Starter Barry Kiess had been impressive through the first five, but Alday opted for James Purse. It was probably a decision he'd like to have back. The next batter, first baseman Jeff Gjerde promptly hit a two-run double to score Kidd and Wickey. Gjerde then scored on Chris Cooper's double, prompting Alday's second trip to the mound.
New Mexico got three more runs in the seventh on Wulfert's second hit of the day, a two-run double to right. Garcia then doubled in Wulfert, but was thrown out trying to go for three.
The Wildcats got runs in the seventh and the eighth for the 6-5 score.
Kindall credited Friday's hero, John Powers, with great late-inning defense. In the bottom of the ninth Friday, Powers hit a one-out, two-run homer to lift the Wildcats to an 8-7 victory.
The home run shocked the junior third baseman.
"I hit a few in little league," Powers said. "But I don't think I'll hit many more."
Then yesterday, he stopped a sure double and threw out Chad Burchett for the second out in the ninth. Wildcat reliever Jason Frierott got the win after Clay Crossan's ineffective relief of White.
"To tell you the truth I was pretty nervous," Frierott said. "I just wanted to keep the ball down and let the infield do their job."
The Lobos took Satur-day's game 10-4, as the Wildcats committed three errors, but the errors bothered no one on the Wildcat bench.
"Coach Kindall just told us, 'Hey you guys are good defensively and that it would come around,'" Wickey said. "This program is just going to build and build."
The Wildcats will next face BYU, Thursday in the first of a three-game series at Sancet Field. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m.
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